Strathclyde Sirens Vs Severn Stars

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Wasps Netball maintain unbeaten record

Wasps Netball came through a tough test with a 54-50 win against title challengers Saracens Mavericks.

Mel Mansfield’s team trailed in the second-quarter and resisted a late comeback from Mavericks to secure their fourth successive victory.

Sophia Candappa was named Player of the Match for the first time in her career.

Mansfield said: “We knew this was going to be our toughest test yet and it was exactly that.

“We’ve had strong third-quarters in each of our last three games and that shined through again.

“In training we have been working hard on our fitness levels and maintaining performance levels.

“When we took the lead in the third-quarter I didn’t feel like we were going to fall behind again.

“Having a tight game like this will be really good for us, the team will have learnt a lot about themselves tonight.”

George Fisher opened the scoring for the hosts on her return to Ricoh Arena but Katie Harris levelled the score within seconds.

A flying intercept from Hannah Knights proved an early highlight, as the home side built toward a six-goal lead.

Mavericks worked their back into the game with ease and were soon within one goal, through some strong play from Sasha Corbin.

Both sides continued to go goal-for-goal until the end of the first-quarter, with Wasps maintaining a slender one-goal advantage.

Mavericks started the second-quarter quickly and took the lead through strong shooting from Kadeen Corbin and supported by a series of turnovers from the home side.

The visitors were faster to every ball over the next five minutes and built a five-goal advantage.

A defensive stop from Wasps Goal Keeper Sam May swung momentum and her side capitalised with back-to-back quickfire goals to bring Wasps level at half-time.

Candappa took to the court for the third-quarter and made an immediate impact, helping the Black and Golds to three unanswered goals.

Wasps pressed their advantage over the next eight minutes – despite physical defending from the visitors attempting to disrupt the hosts’ attacking flow.

The combination of Harris and Rachel Dunn proved unmatchable, exchanging quick passes to work around the Mavericks defence and growing an eight-goal lead.

Fran Williams impressed in the final-quarter against her England teammates Kadeen Corbin and Fisher.

Mavericks surged back and were soon within four, with only Dunn’s immaculate shooting keeping Wasps in front.

But Mansfield’s side managed to hold off the visitors and come away 54-50 winners.

Wasps Netball’s next fixture will see them face Celtic Dragons at Sport Wales National Centre on Monday 18 February (7pm centre-pass).

Attendance: 1,070

Player of the match: Sophia Candappa

Q1: 15-14
Q2: 27-27
Q3: 43-36
Q4: 54-50

Wasps starting seven: GK Sam May; GD Hannah Knights; WD Amy Flanagan; C Jade Clarke; WA Bongi Msomi; GA Katie Harris; GS Rachel Dunn

Used substitutes: Sophia Candappa (WA); Fran Williams (GD)

Mavericks starting seven: GK Razia Quashie; GD Jo Trip; WD Michelle Drayne; C Sasha Corbin; WA Georgia Lees; GA Kadeen Corbin; GS George Fisher

Tickets are now available for the Vitality Netball Superleague Big Easter Weekend!

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Third quarter key for Thunder

Manchester Thunder stunned Severn Stars with a third quarter domination to win 49-62 – but made hard work of it at The Worcester Arena.

The first quarter was almost like watching a game of tennis as both sides consistently traded turnovers, neither making use of their centre pass possession. Eleanor Cardwell earned herself a starting spot at goal shooter after an impressive display against Pulse earlier in the week, however, feeders Liana Leota and Caroline O’Hanlon struggled to find the shooter’s range early on.

The Stars defence were keeping the Thunder shooters quiet with Jodi-Ann Ward given the task of marking Kathryn Turner. At the first quarter break, Thunder just edged the lead by a solitary goal 12-13.

Head Coach Karen Greig kept faith with the same seven for the start of the second quarter after a few home truths during the break. After nine minutes with the scores level, she’d seen enough and brought on Joyce Mvula at goal shooter with Cardwell moving to goal attack. The changes had an immediate impact and Thunder moved through the gears to quickly build a seven-goal lead by the half time whistle 22-29.

Thunder continued to gain momentum in the third, Malcolm coming on at wing defence had an impact while Greig tried a new option at centre with Carter moving up the court. Stars had no answer to Mvula as she dominated the shooting circle. Almond had to be replaced by Rebekah Airey towards the end of the quarter due to a blood injury but Thunder kept the scoreboard ticking over consistently and built up a lead of 17 by the end of the third quarter going into the final break – 33-50.

For the final quarter, Airey moved to goal defence replacing the ever-present Dovey while Turner returned to the goal attack position. Stars flew out of the blocks for the final quarter putting three quick goals on the board, while Thunder seemed to be admiring their lead. Thunder missed the speed of O’Hanlon through the middle as the game went on, but were able to try out several combinations giving valuable court time to the squad. With the Thunder bench barking instructions the partnership of Almond and Airey grew in confidence and the defensive unit started to shut down the options for Stars.

Head Coach Karen Greig said: “We were slow out of the blocks and our timing was off, we were slack on attacking the ball and our placement. We had to change something as we brought Joyce on and moved Eleanor out to goal attack and it made the impact we needed at that point. It enabled us to pull away at the end of the second quarter”

“We had a great third quarter, it has been our bogey quarter in the last few games, we really stepped up the pressure. Amy Carter had a good game at both wing defence and centre and really shut down their play. We were just wasteful in attack, which is really disappointing to see and a really disappointing last quarter when we should have seen out the game comfortably.”

“We need to look at our connections in training this week as our game against Loughborough next week is not going to be an easy one.”

Thunder Starting 7:
GS Cardwell, GA Turner, WA Leota C O’Hanlon WD Carter GD Dovey GK Almond.
Bench: Airey, Malcolm, McAndrew, Mvula, Thomas

Severn Stars Starting 7:
GS Rowe, GA Holzthausen WA Darroch C Harris WD Powell-Davies GD Ward GK Cook
Bench: Adio, Gabriel, Moseley, O’Dwyer, Muskwe

Tickets are also now available for the Vitality Netball Superleague Big Easter Weekend!

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Dragons win thriller in Glasgow

Celtic Dragons returned to winning ways on their away trip to Glasgow in what was a knife-edge encounter.

Those in attendance were treated to a breathless display of physicality and flair with both teams firing themselves at every ball and where the winner would be decided on the fine margins of successful feeds into the circle.

Both sides came out with plenty of focus in the initial stages of the first quarter. Kalifa McCollin netted the first for Dragons and then it appeared that the visitors had turned over possession from Sirens’ first centre pass, only to cede the ball immediately again. It was, nevertheless, an early sign of intent from Dragons GK Stacian Facey who enjoyed possibly her finest outing of the 2019 campaign so far. There were no shortages of opportunities for Dragons as the quarter went on, with Dee Bolakoro making use of her long reach to win a tip which led to a Dragons score. Some errors did creep into the Dragons centre pass and it this allowed Sirens to grab an early advantage at the break.

In the second quarter, Clare Elsley came on for Kyra Jones at C as the Dragons looked to maintain discipline off their centre pass. By this time the home team were really getting stuck in and there were some fantastic contests for the ball with Nia Jones tumbling across the court in trademark fashion! Dragons did seem to tidy up and the visiting bench were jumping for joy as Stacian made two big intercepts in a matter of a minute to help the Dragons really get stuck in. A footwork call at 10 minutes stalled some of the Dragons momentum, but Chelsea Lewis and Kalifa McCollin combined for a perfect 10 from 10 to keep the score ticking over. The lead changed hands a few times in the period, but Sirens were no slouches and they kept a slender advantage at the half.

Kyra Jones returned to court for the third quarter and immediately displayed laser focus to make an early intercept. She led what appeared to be some far more patient Dragons drives up court as the team weathered some excellent play from the Sirens who went 3-up. Similarly, Suzy Drane took her time and was able to exploit some outstanding passing options as the Dragons took the lead once again. There were far fewer flying interceptions or acrobatic tips in this quarter, but rather the team were more focused on slowing down the Sirens run of play and causing their opponents to make their own mistakes. As a result, Dragons took their first quarter time lead of the match.

Going into the last quarter there were no visible signs of nerves as the squad remained composed under Nia’s leadership. Returning to court, the movement was patient, considered and Chelsea took good advantage of the opportunities she was afforded. That first clinical five minutes essentially won Dragons the game as Sirens and their vocal crowd came back fighting to try and steal a famous win. There were some unnecessary long balls thrown from the Dragons but Sirens were likewise guilty – a telegraphed passed found its way to Dee on the thirteenth minute and from there the away bench were able to breathe a sigh of relief.

Speaking after the match, Head Coach Tania Hoffman said: “It was a torrid match and could have gone either way! But I’m very pleased that the girls hung on in there and got intercepts when we really needed them.”

She added: “Again, we just need to hold onto the ball for a little bit longer. We just need to stick to our game plan and what works for us.”

Looking forward to Celtic Dragons next game, at home to Wasps on Monday 18 February, Hoffman spoke about the squad’s preparation. She said: “We’ve got a few trainings this week and it’s really about looking at what Wasps bring to the table and how we can counter that, but also working on the things we need to fix.”

Quarter Scores: 14-12 (14-12); 10-11 (24-23); 12-14 (36-37); 10-13 (46-50)

Celtic Dragons: GS Chelsea Lewis, GA Kalifa McCollin, WA Suzy Drane, C Kyra Jones, WD Nia Jones (capt), GD Dee Bolakoro, GK Stacian Facey. Replacements: Lucy Howells, Lucy Herdman, Abby Tyrrell, Clare Elsey, Eleanor Roberts.

Strathclyde Sirens: GS C Tuivati, GA L Gallagher, WA N McCleary, C C Maxwell, WD G Abernethy, GD E Nicholl and GK E Gibbons. Replacements: K Boyle, R Edgar, B Goodwin, N McCall and H Mulheron.

Tickets are also now available for the Vitality Netball Superleague Big Easter Weekend!

Make sure you’re following the Vitality Netball Superleague on Twitter for the latest news and updates!

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Team Bath vow to learn lessons from Storm defeat

There was disappointment for Team Bath Netball in their first home match of the 2019 Vitality Superleague season as they were beaten 56-50 by Surrey Storm on Monday.

The Blue & Gold had gone into the televised game on the back of two away wins but struggled to find their rhythm against a well-drilled Storm side who were more clinical going forward and deservedly recorded their first victory of the season.

Team Bath Netball Superleague Head Coach Anna Stembridge said: “We knew Storm would provide a tough test and for me I don’t think we physically manned up to the challenge well enough. We got a bit clunky at times taking the ball through to goal but credit to Storm for doing their homework and putting us under pressure.

“At times we put their attack under pressure and got clean turnover but we didn’t capitalise on it and we definitely were not at our best. We’ll make sure we take the lessons from this into Friday’s game against Severn Stars.”

Player of the Match Rachel Shaw added: “I think the problems started in the first quarter when we gave the ball away a few times and gave Storm confidence but there were still plenty of positives to take out of the game and we’ll look to bounce back quickly.”

England international Eboni Usoro-Brown was ruled out of the match, which was sponsored by King Edward’s School, as a precaution after picking up a knock during the recent Quad Series.

That meant University of Bath student Chartie Curtis started at GD, as she had in the last match at Strathclyde Sirens, and she did well alongside Summer Artman during a first quarter that saw momentum ebb and flow as both teams forced a number of turnovers and errors.

Team Bath raced into a 3-0 lead, then found themselves 8-6 down before regaining the initiative to draw level at 10-10. A late push saw the hosts restore their three-goal advantage but a goal on the buzzer from Sigi Burger cut the Blue and Gold’s quarter lead to 14-12.

It continued to be nip and tuck in the second period as the teams traded goals but also missed chances. Storm eventually began to find more composure in attack and when they edged into the lead, Team Bath made a change as Beryl Friday replaced fellow Australian Kim Commane at goal-shooter.

She quickly found her feet, converting her first three shots, but South African shooter Burger – who linked brilliantly with Rhea Dixon – was equally ruthless at the other end as Storm opened up a 28-26 lead at half-time.

It was the first quarter that Team Bath had lost this season and they made further changes at the interval, sending on U21 captain Abi Robson at WD and Laura Rudland at GA, but it was Storm who made the brighter start to the third period as they doubled their advantage to four goals.

The 800-strong home crowd turned up the volume in a bid to inspire their team but the Blue & Gold were struggling to find any rhythm and a slicker Storm side took full advantage to move 38-31 ahead.

Another switch saw Mia Ritchie come on at centre and captain Serena Guthrie move to WD but while a brief rally saw Team Bath close the gap to five, the hosts were not firing on all cylinders and Storm went into the final quarter with a healthy 43-37 lead.

Sophie Drakeford-Lewis returned to GA for a last 15 minutes that saw the home side go all out to claw their way back into the game. Some good interceptions had the crowd on their feet and the lead was quickly cut to four but, try as they might, Team Bath couldn’t get any closer as Storm saw out a well-deserved first victory of the 2019 season.

The Blue & Gold are back in action this Friday (February 1) when they play host to West Country rivals Severn Stars. Centre-pass is 7.30pm and remaining tickets are available at netball.teambath.com/tickets.

Tickets are also now available for the Vitality Netball Superleague Big Easter Weekend!

Make sure you’re following the Vitality Netball Superleague on Twitter for the latest news and updates!